What do we do with our masks?

What do we do with our masks?

Q. Is there yet a protocol of what to do with your mask when not wearing it? Meaning, on entering our office building and walking through generic halls, we need to wear masks but as our meetings are all of fully vaccinated co-workers, we do not wear them, and I never know where to put them. Do I leave it hanging around my neck, shove it in a pocket, make it a modern pocket square? Or hang it on my arm for easy access?

A. This is one of those instances when men wished they had pocketbooks, isn’t it? Actually, fewer women have them with them full time in offices, so the issue exists across the genders. Obviously the first concern is your needs. If you may need to put it on quickly and/or might forget it (leaving it at your desk), then indeed you should have it with you at all times. By the same token if you’d be the only one keeping it dangling from your neck or your ear, that may seem awkward. Also the science of its efficacy really means touching it at a minimum. I don’t think hanging it on your arm or the pocket square idea is the way to go. 

Our new mask-clad way of life began slowly, but it’s now more widely accepted. In fact, we now have a surplus of choices from the simplest of disposables to medical-grade types as well as designer logos for individual style and personal expression.

According to several expert sources, face masks should be carefully folded so the outer surface is held inward and against itself to reduce contact with the outer surface during storage. The folded mask can be stored between uses in a pocket as you suggested or a clean paper bag.

Masks that fit well protect you better. For a better fit, men with beards can trim their beards closer to the face. Keep in mind the same recommendations that have been emphasized for the last year:

  • Be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting on a mask.
  • Do NOT touch the mask when wearing it. If you have to touch/adjust your mask often, it doesn’t fit you properly, and you may need to find a different mask or make adjustments.
  • Handle only the ear loops or ties.
  • Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth when removing, and wash hands immediately after removing.
  • If your mask can be folded, fold the outside corners together.
  • After washing your mask, dry it completely in a warm or hot dryer.
  • Or, if you hand wash your mask, hang it in direct sunlight to dry. If you cannot hang it in direct sunlight, hang or lay it flat and let it dry completely.
  • If you are taking off your mask to eat or drink outside of your home, place it somewhere safe to keep it clean. After eating, put the mask back on with the same side facing out.
  • Be sure to wash or sanitize your hands after putting your mask back on. 

As with many elements of dress, it does make sense to look around at what others are doing to see if your approach stands out . . . but also think whether they are acting in a manner that makes sense.

Please send your men’s dress and grooming questions and comments to MALE CALL: Lois.Fenton@prodigy.net

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